Cybersecurity Grows Amid Broader Government Cutbacks

Despite widespread cutbacks throughout the federal government, one area has been growing across multiple agencies: cybersecurity. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), for example, has increased its cybersecurity workforce by more than 600 percent over the past few years, and expects to hire at least another 600 cyber professionals—and possibly many more. DHS’s FY2013 budget request for cybersecurity efforts is $769 million, a whopping 74% higher than in FY2012.

Last July¸ DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano directed the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) to form a Task Force on CyberSkills. That task force’s recent report set out five key objectives, one of which was to “focus the large majority of DHS’s near term efforts in cybersecurity hiring, training, and human capital development on ensuring that the Department builds a team of approximately 600 federal employees with mission-critical cybersecurity skills.”

Speaking at a Washington Post cybersecurity forum last week (October 31), Napolitano said that while “we’ve probably gone from five miles to 85 miles an hour at DHS in the last three or so years, we need to be at 120 miles an hour—and I would say that across the federal government.” Napolitano added that “we are in the midst of hiring. We need cyber folks, analysts, IT specialists, and people who are familiar with code and coding.”

If passed, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (S. 2105) would give DHS’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) the same hiring authority that the National Security Agency (NSA) uses to recruit and retain critical employees. NCCIC  works with federal partners—including the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Secret Service, and NSA—as well as with state and local officials and with private sector and other nongovernment partners to protect the nation’s critical cyber and communications networks.

In addition to DHS’s efforts, NSA and the FBI also have launched new cybersecurity initiatives and hired additional computer scientists and other cyber experts. All three agencies (along with DoJ) share information and work together through the FBI-led National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force.